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Common Sense Advice To Reduce Aggressive Animal Encounters

Large brown bull moose standing in a wildflower field.
National Park Service

Wildlife experts are warning outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of potential encounters with moose, deer and other big game. 

“Utah is definitely wildlife country. Any place in the West where you’ve got the kind of mountains and the diversity of landscapes which attract human beings also are home to wildlife,” said Terry Messmer, a professor and extension wildlife specialist in the Department of Wildlife Resources at Utah State University.

Aggressive animal encounters are rare.  But Messmer says there are always ways to change behavior to protect yourself, family and pets.

“For example, if you are out hiking, biking, walking, and you encounter a large game animal - like a moose or a mule deer - give it space," Messmer said. "Back away from the trail. If you happen to be with your dog, pick up your dog. If you happen to be walking with your children, pick up your children and move away, move off the trail and allow the animal to move away."

In October a women and her dog were apparently attacked by a cow moose in Summit County. Two hikers found the women lying on a trail about 20 feet away from the aggressive mother and her calf.

“If in some cases the animal were to charge or attack... try to protect yourself, curl up in a ball and protect your head and the animal after realizing that they have neutralized the threat they will move on. Also if you are far away from the animal make yourself as large as possible, this is the one time when you have full license to be as obnoxious as you can outdoors – yell, scream, shout, raise your hands, do all those things to frighten the animal, to move the animal, but again give the animal space," Messmer said.